Frigophobia

It’s been cold in New Orleans lately. The last two nights we’ve had freeze warnings. I don’t think it actually froze, though.

Fortunately the new insulation under our house seems to be making a huge difference in terms of our general comfort level. The energy savings remain to be seen.

I still find cold weather a challenge. My body seems to be deeply offended by any temperature below 70ºF. I’m not really comfortable until we hit 75 or 80º. It looks like we’ll get close to such temperatures again in a couple days, but right now it’s just hitting 40º and it was much colder on the morning bike ride — especially factoring the wind.

When venturing out in the morning, I gird myself my remembering that a) I come from hardy Norwegian stock, and b) I lived for a year by the arctic circle. I even have a photo to prove the latter.

Polcirkeln

It doesn’t look too arctic in that picture, but it was taken in August.

But back to cold mornings here and now: I bundle Persephone up thoroughly, with coat, hood, mittens and a scarf over her face to protect her tender cheeks from windburn. She’s only got a few minutes on the bike, though; I have a longer ride after dropping her off. It’s really not too bad until I turn off Jeff Davis onto Drexel Drive. That’s always the windiest part of my ride. Not sure why. Maybe the Washington Avenue Canal has something to do with it.

And yet I really don’t mind a cold and windy bike ride. It’s a brief ordeal. I dress appropriately, and I get through it. I’m active and moving the whole time.

No, it’s the sedentary parts of my day that are more of a challenge. When I get into my office my body temperature is usually elevated from the exertion, such that I can’t tell how cold it really is. This morning the thermometer told me it was 61º in here. After an hour or so, my body temperature subsides to its normal level and I really start feeling the cold in my fingers.

I’ve never understood why I have a tendency to sweat when I’m cold, but it certainly adds to the general unpleasantness. Some basic net searches turn up plenty of info about people who sweat in all climates, but that’s not me. I don’t sweat excessively in the heat. It’s only in cold weather that this bothers me, in particular when my feet sweat. Anyone with cold, wet feet is truly miserable. My fingers are cold to the bone. No, I don’t have Raynaud’s. They are just uncomfortably cold, not discolored or painful. And my palms are sweating. What the hell is going on?

When I mentioned this to my podiatrist last week, he made a remark about it being a “sympathetic reaction.” That phrase led me to this:

Also sweating responds to your emotional state. So when you are nervous, anxious or afraid, there is an increase in sympathetic nerve activity in your body as well as an increase in epinephrine secretion from your adrenal gland. These substances act on your sweat glands, particularly those on your palms of your hand and your armpits, to make sweat. Thus, you feel a “cold” sweat.

This would seem to bear out a long-held suspicion of mine — that I’m sweating because of anxiety about the cold. In other words, it’s psychological.

In fact, the name of my second, abortive blogging attempt from way back in April 2003 (a good year before I started this one) says it all: Frigophobia.

The universe is basically a cold place. Heat is a mysterious aberration. No one really knows where it came from, but we’re pretty sure that it is slowly going away. The universe is cooling, and in time it will chill out completely.

This morning it was around 60º F when I left the house. I was wearing a light sweater, a shirt, and an undershirt. After a ten minute bike ride to get to work, my hands were still like ice.

The air conditioning is out of control in my office. It’s so cold we all have to wear sweaters. We all run space heaters in our offices to offset the air conditioning, which cannot be turned off or adjusted by us directly.

I’ve been reading about Raynaud’s Phenomenon and Raynaud’s Disease. Many people have suggested that I might suffer from this, but years ago a doctor told me I didn’t. I’m inclined to trust her diagnosis. The coldness of my hands and feet does not come in the form of attacks. My fingers do not discolor. I do not experience pain.

I don’t have Raynaud’s. I just have cold hands.

My hands are cold. My feet are also cold, sometimes colder than my hands, sometimes warmer. The rest of me is fine.

I used to worry about my “core temperature” dropping. But it is very unlikely that my core temperature has anything to do with it. Indeed, the ability of the human body to maintain the same basic core temperature for many decades is a marvel. I’m not going to freeze solid and die anytime soon.

Two concerns dominate the thoughts of one who fears cold, besides the obvious factor of temperature; these twin concerns are: Moisture and Insulation.

Nothing is eternal. Even the idea of eternity is a fraud. Time is only temporary. The universe is ending, slowly, dying the Cold Death.

Calling it a phobia is probably overly dramatic. But it seems possible that my sweating is caused by anxiety. I wonder where that came from? What’s the root of this anxiety? Perhaps that year up by the Arctic Circle has something to do with it. It was a fairly grim time in my life. In any event, I wonder if I could overcome the anxiety and be more comfortable. It seems plausible but I’m not sure where to start.

Cold Front

Another cold front passed through our area this weekend. On Saturday it was unseasonably warm, on Sunday unseasonably cold, and all day long Sunday I felt out of sorts — not quite right — like my body was out of tune. Nothing severe, but a tiny headache, a touch of fatigue, a slightly upset stomach, general irritability and uneasiness. It adds up.

I found reference to this in an article by Jon Wright.

Perhaps the most stressful weather condition is the passing of cold and warm fronts. A cold front coming through your “neck of the woods” means more than just a drop in temperature. It also means complex changes in the barometric pressure, wind direction, humidity, and even pollutants that may be carried into a forecast area. All of these changes affect our bodies, our endocrine systems, our nervous systems, and our cardiovascular systems.

I do not like cold fronts. I generally don’t enjoy cold weather, period, but as noted above the passing of a cold front entails so much more than that. I swear I feel the drop in pressure deep inside my gut. I’m wondering what I can do to offset these feelings when the next one comes through. Do I need to stock up on calcium, phosphates, sodium, magnesium? Should I regulate my blood-sugar? I wonder if my hypothalamus and pituitary gland are out of whack, and if so what I can do to promote their function.

At least this was a dry front. I really don’t enjoy those cold fronts that drive storms before them. I would like to learn to relish such events instead of dreading them.

Meanwhile we are bracing for the coldest weather of the season so far overnight. We might even see some frost. We’ll be putting our new insulation to the test. I think I noticed a big improvement this morning, in terms of the air temperature underfoot. But the morning bike ride was tough.

Concrete Equinox

Our equinox celebration was a little chaotic, because the guys who are re-doing our driveway showed up somewhat unexpectedly to pour concrete.

Nevertheless, we persevered. We had a few friends and neighbors over. I invented a simple cocktail of champagne, Sence rose nectar and wild hibiscus flowers in syrup. The flavor was probably more appropriate for the vernal equinox, but hey — these were the items I had on hand from Tales of the Cocktail. So I just pretended we were in the southern hemisphere.

(I almost forgot to mention that this was the end of my alcohol-fast, which began after Lammas, roughly. I called it a “sobriety binge.” This was not my first such venture nor my last, I’m sure; it seems like a good idea to give my liver a break from time to time; in this case I was motivated by a concern that my tolerance was getting too high. But a doctor I visited recently seemed to interpret this bout of abstinence as a danger sign. Me, I always thought the danger was when a person can’t stop drinking.)

I’ve taken note of the equinox for years, and often yearned to celebrate it, but I think this may be the first time I’ve actually done so. It felt good. I even made a little demonstration for the kids. Gauge held the flashlight while I tilted the globe back and forth. But through the general chaos I’m not sure anyone actually absorbed the concept.

Meanwhile the guys outside were pouring concrete until well after dark. I raised a toast to them, but they didn’t notice me over the roar of the cement mixer.

I also discovered my own sister has no idea what an equinox or solstice is. I will have to give her an astronomy lesson next time I visit.

Another circle of friend gathered at the Fly and improvised a ritual with “marching drums for music and some cut wild flowers to toss into the river,” which sounded cool.

In addition to the equinox, it was also the first night of Sukkot (חג שמח!) and the Harvest Moon. A festive time by several measures.

So how did you celebrate?

I will write more about the whole driveway odyssey once the project is finished.

Back to School

Instead of strengthening into a named storm, Tropical Depression #5 petered out and dissipated into nothing but a bunch of rainy weather. If it had played out differently, school might have been cancelled, but as it was today was the first day of classes at Xy’s new school.

Back to School

Yes, she’s teaching again, as I mentioned a couple months ago. Since then I’ve been joking that she needs to plan on working there for at least ten years. But it’s not really a joke; I hope she finds a measure of satisfaction and (dare I say it) peace in this position.

As long as I’m wishing, I’ll extend that to all teachers everywhere.

Some schools did indeed close today, including Persephone’s new daycare, a fact which I did not discover until I got there and found the place locked up and deserted. But “Dada’s school” is open so it’s an impromptu “Take Your Daughter to Work” day for me. It’s pretty quiet here, as summer sessions are over and the fall semester has not yet begun.

Better Safe

I woke around dawn to the sound of heavy downpouring rain. After it kept up for a while, I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed, put on a pair of boxers, some sandals, and a baseball hat, and ran out to move the car up to the driveway. Xy tried to tell me it wasn’t necessary, but I’ve learned my lesson from last time. Of course, when I got back into bed, the rain seemed to taper off significantly, but hey — better safe than sorry, right?

Three or four hours later, when I went out the front door on my way to work, I discovered a huge tree limb had broken off the neighbor’s tree, a live oak, and landed in the street. This was no mere twig. It was massive enough to do serious damage. And it was in the exact spot where our car had been.

Street Flood Panorama

We got some heavy rain Sunday morning. It caused widespread street flooding throughout New Orleans. I know our street certainly flooded. I used the panorama feature of our new camera to take this picture.

Banks Street Submerged

Of course it is better viewed at a larger size. You may even want to examine the original full size photo, but you will have to scroll horizontally for that one unless you have an extremely large monitor.

I remember when the rain was pounding down, and I was looking out the window, and I said, “Rain like this always make me nervous because the streets might flood.”

Our house guest replied, “I like it when the streets flood. It’s fun.”

“Well, it’s not so fun if your car gets destroyed.”

“I can tell you how to avoid getting your car destroyed. Park it in your driveway.”

Which just goes to show that sometimes and eleven-year-old can be smarter than an adult, because I really should have moved our car to the driveway right then and there. Instead I waited, and when the water indeed began to rise, then I decided to move the car. The water came up quick, and the whole process was rather harrowing. Eventually I did get the car to higher ground. Given the vehicle has something like 13″ of ground clearance, I might not even have needed to move it, but why take chances? Several of our neighbors got water in their cars that morning.

Summer Is a-Coming In

We had a little party. For Beltane and May Day. I didn’t send out engraved invitations, only announced it via Twitter.

What is this day, anyway? A cross-quarter day, Beltane falls halfway between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. Some folks mark it as the beginning of summer, which makes sense to me.

We had a total of six guests, so it was perhaps the smallest such party we’ve ever thrown, but also one of the most enjoyable. In attendance were: Michael H., Brother O’Mara, Caitlin and her friend Randy, and a little later DJ and Lala.

And of course also P. & Xy & yours truly. So nine all told, including hosts. A nice number.

We drank a pitcher of Limoncello Collins, and numerous other drinks were consumed. (Most notably a quantity of Luxardo Amaro Abano.) We fired up the grill and cooked sausages and burgers. We oiled up the blades and shaved my head — just the underneath parts, still keeping it long on top for now. No one else was up for a shave, alas.

And we talked and talked and talked, about religion and politics and the apocalyptic unfoldings in the Gulf of Mexico. It was more than interesting to hear the perspectives of an African-American from New Jersey on the racial politics here in the Deepest South. By the same token, I was glad when DJ showed up, a friend who is also a native to the city and a person of color, who is progressive and intelligent and who (in a nutshell) represents everything the world thinks we’re not. It was cool those guys got to meet each other, especially since they are both teaching in the public schools.

I didn’t take any pictures or record any songs or create any great works of art out of this event. But I enjoyed it a great deal, so much that I’m already imagining what it might be like to do it again next year.

It certainly feels like summer’s coming in. It’s hot and sticky and after three days of overcast turbulence it’s finally raining. I can only hope it gets our grass growing to cover up the bare patches that have begun to appear over the last month.

Then Came the Dark Days of April

Abril lluvioso (explored #2 April 20/2010) Abril lluvioso by Julián Lozano

This has always been a funny time of year for me. Between spring break and the end of the semester, faculty get more stressed than ever and tend to walk around campus enveloped in clouds of gloom. Because I don’t teach, I’m a bit removed from the pressures that build up at the end of the school year — but because I work with faculty, I absorb plenty of it vicariously. Yet I also know that just around the corner is the year’s biggest mood-swing. Once final grades are turned in, the sense of relaxation is palpable. That may be my favorite time of year. The run-up? Not so much. If I had any sense I’d take a nice long vacation right in the middle of April. Maybe next year.

Speaking of the cycle of the academic year, I picked up a new responsibility last year and I’m doing it again this year, so it appears to be a new part of my annual routine. The University has started giving awards to faculty for service, scholarship, and teaching. My task is to produce a few seconds of video of each winner to be shown when the awards are presented during the commencement ceremony. There’s a very narrow window of opportunity between when the honorees are announced and the production deadline. But that’s fine. I am hustling around campus with my co-worker Jim T. to capture video in classrooms, offices, and laboratories. Jim shoots the video, and I do the editing, but I also tag along to help carry equipment; occasionally I give some direction to the shooting, but Jim generally knows all the angles. It’s actually kind of fun, and it’s good practice for me. I realize I haven’t done any video production since this time last year.

Also I am considering staging a mini-Beltane/Head Shaving/Grilling/Tom Collins/May Day celebration on Saturday. Anyone wanna come over?

Spring Break

I don’t seem to have been writing much here lately, and I’m not sure why.

It could be that mentally I’m on spring break, and so I have prepared this mix for your enjoyment.

The University is actually on spring break this week, but poor slobs like me are working anyway. As one (faculty) friend of mine teased, “So that means you have to surf the web all day at your office instead of at home.” I laughed, but I really don’t get that kind of humor.

We do have Maundy Thursday and Good Friday off. In this Catholic town most people call it Holy Thursday but I think Maundy is a much cooler name. Plus it’s how I was raised. In fact, I’ve been recalling the Tenebrae services I sued to attend when I was growing up. This was surely the most dramatic service of the church year. The candles were gradually extinguished until the sanctuary was almost completely dark. The music was haunting and mournful. The pastor slammed the bible shut making a huge and scary noise. The congregation left the dark church in silence. I’ve kind of got the itch to experience that again, but my daughter might still be a bit too young to appreciate it.

My mother-in-law has come to visit. She’s fattening us up with her good home-cooking and buying all sorts of housewares and whatnots. I think she may be caulking our bathtub right now. Her original plan was to stay for the week of Xy’s spring break, but then we realized P’s spring break is the following week, so she’s staying two weeks in order that I don’t have to blow a whole week’s worth of vacation.

But why have I been so “quiet” here? I don’t know. Maybe I’m in a funk with the changing of the seasons. It is finally warming up after a long, cold winter, and I’m happy about that. But I have also been going through various permutations of a sore throat and cough. Perhaps it’s allergies, though I normally associate allergies with nasal congestion, which I don’t have.

Or maybe it’s something completely different. I get the feeling the whole city is kind of collectively holding its breath in anticipation of the impending change in the administration.

Thawing Out

There was a little frost outside this morning, but our cold snap seems to be coming to an end. The morning bike ride was chilly but not bone-chilling. It looks as though we won’t see freezing temperatures for the rest of the week. Hopefully the rest of the season! Personally I’d be happy if I never experienced anything below 50ºF for the rest of my life. That’s plenty cold enough for me.

Xy left some overripe pomegranate on the deck for the birds to eat. I was taken with the image of the red fruit covered with white frost.

Frosted Pomegranate

As Casey pointed out, this is “chock full o’ meaning re: the Persephone myth!” Which is oh-so-true. Can’t believe I didn’t recognize that myself.

Speaking of the goddess, we were exploring the back yard yesterday and made a fun discovery. Some water had pooled on a tarp and remained frozen in a large sheet. That allowed me to take this photo, which I call “Toddler Encased in a Block of Ice!”

Toddler Encased in a Block of Ice! [crop]

Alas it seems that a lot of our plants have probably not survived. I brought in some of the smaller potted plants, but we did not cover any of the bushes and trees small trees, and it’s looking like we should have. The house came so nicely landscaped too. I guess we just haven’t been there long enough to be thoroughly familiar with the grounds and their upkeep. We also had a fish die; not sure if that was related to the cold or not. The flora and fauna generally falls under Xy’s purview, and she’d been pretty much out of commission ever since our trip out west. Hopefully she will feel better soon.

My Big Chill

By strange coincidence, I found myself watching The Big Chill Friday night. It’s one of those super-famous movies that I’ve just somehow never seen.

Alas, when the flick was over and I turned in for the evening, I neglected to leave a trickle of water running, as I’d done Thursday night. This, despite the fact I knew we were still under a hard freeze warning, with potential record-breaking lows on the way. Sheer stupidity.

See, here in New Orleans many houses have pipes on the outside, exposed to the elements. You can get away with that here for years at a time.

Sure enough, when I woke up this morning, we had no water out the hot taps. The cold taps were working fine.

As I examined our plumbing with greater scrutiny, I concluded that most of our pipes are enclosed. The only place a couple feet of pipe are exposed is our hot water exchange.

Hot H2O Exchange

Those short little blue pipes leading into and out of our tankless water heater are what froze overnight. By the afternoon they were thawed and appeared to be no worse for the wear.

I tried to pick up some pipe insulation, but the local stores were all sold out. So I improvised, and wrapped the pipes in some foam which I cut from a mattress pad. I secured the foam with garbage-bag twist-ties. I’m actually pretty happy with the result.

As I was driving around Mid-City looking for pipe insulation, I saw the fountain in front of Schoen Funeral Home on Canal Street had frozen quite beautifully.

Frozen Fountain

It was quite striking. I only wish I’d had a better camera with me.

Meanwhile the Banks Street Bar is advertising that, indeed, they “Have Heat.”

We Have Heat

Now we are bracing for round three tonight. It will be nice when things warm up next week.

Oh, as for The Big Chill? Not bad. Fun to watch. But I’m not sure I understand why it has such a rep. To watch the retrospective featurette, you’d think they invented the ensemble film. I’m not sure that’s the case. Maybe its success is simply a matter of generational resonance? I’ll have to quiz my boomer friends.

Coldest

We are experiencing the coldest damn weather since we moved here to New Orleans ten years ago. In fact it may break records going back much further than that.

Our new house is raised and has no subfloor. I’d been told a cold wind can whip under the floor something fierce, and sure enough over the last month I thought it was somewhat chilly. But this morning it was virtually unbearable. Lucky we have an upstairs. I think we may have to live up there for the next day or two.

It was cold enough I decided not to take the girl on the bike this morning. Instead, I bundled her up and put her in the stroller. After dropping her off at daycare I walked to work. I saw ice on the street in three places. The first time it didn’t even register as unusual. But the second time I started wondering, when’s the last time I saw natural ice here in New Orleans? I can’t remember.

Sometimes we get through a whole winter without a hard freeze here. The temperature may dip down and flirt with freezing briefly, but that’s not enough to produce ice. Hard freezes require several hours below freezing. We’ve had a number of those over our decade here, but I can’t remember the last time it was still below freezing at 10:30 AM.

This cold snap comes on the heels of the wettest month in the recorded history of the city. I’ve had enough extreme weather to last me a while.

(Oh, by the way, I lived up by the arctic circle for a year. I know what “real” cold is. Are you familiar with -30ºF? I am. But I also know at some point it’s just too damn cold, and we have reached that point.)

Catching Up to the Present

Sacred Fart Activity Center

I’m still trying to catch up to the present.

We celebrated Xy’s birthday last Tuesday. Since she was feeling sick and I was run ragged it was a pretty lame birthday, but of course she’s used to such disappointments, as are all children of late December. I tried to recontextualize the Escape as Xy’s birthday present, one day late. We just ignored the part about her totaling the previous vehicle.

The Orleans Avenue bonfire was tamed last year and completely extinguished this year, crushed under bureaucracy and public safety concerns. I think that’s a shame, but it didn’t really affect us, because our daughter’s too young to go anyway. So we did like last year, stayed home and did our own bonfire ritual. We lit an ultra-mini-bonfire — a candle actually — which we placed on the neutral ground in front of our home at midnight. Xy and I each ran around it three times. Since the girl was asleep in her crib at this point, we represented her symbolically with her pink steel-tipped cowgirl boots. Xy took one and I took the other and we made three more circles round the flame. So many neighbors were shooting off fireworks that P was soon awake again, and she joined us for a bowl of Hoppin’ John.

Santa Flag

The weekend was spent in preparing Xy’s classroom at her new school. New school? What, did she change jobs? No, actually it’s a top-to-bottom renovation and expansion of the old school on its pre-Katrina site; they were in a temporary location and just moved back to the old/new school over the holiday break. It’s a very nice renovation job indeed, with a great blending of historical details and modern amenities.

Of course, there are some challenges. For one thing, Xy was assigned a consultant to scrutinize her teaching, which nearly drove her to a nervous breakdown, and this guy was observing her in the classroom right up to the last day of school in December. That meant that while all the other teachers were packing, Xy couldn’t, and so moving was quite the headache. Then a bunch of well-meaning volunteers who helped move her stuff “unpacked” all her science kits, creating complete chaos in her new classroom. She’s got a generous amount of storage space in a large closet with lots of shelves, but someone closed the door to the closet and it automatically locked and for a good long while no one could get it open. She had a ton of stuff taking up valuable space in the classroom which needed to go in the closet, as well as a good number of items already in the closet which she needed to get out. But we couldn’t do a damn thing because the door was locked. Neither of the “master keys” held by the principal and the foreman would work. Finally, late Saturday evening, some guy in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt came by and got it open, much to our relief. I immediately taped the latch open so she wouldn’t get locked out again. Little things like that can wreck one’s mental health. Inside the closet we discovered Xy’s missing potted plants, squirreled away by another well-meaning volunteer. They were still alive, luckily. Who puts plants in a closet?

Another gotcha: The new classrooms have these really cool stucco-type walls. Tape won’t adhere to them. Pins won’t stick. Neither will staples. Xy tested a hot glue gun on a discrete patch and discovered the glue pulls off chunks of wall. We ended up using sticky-tack. The next day an edict came down from the principal not to use that either. Too late for Xy’s classroom, but I’m not sure what the other teachers are going to do. Most teachers have an overwhelming compulsion to put stuff on their walls, and the idea of a school with pristine walls that can’t be junked up with thousands of educational posters and student projects is bizarre to me.

All the rooms are equipped with SMART boards, and luckily those seem to be working. Xy got addicted to using such technology in the classroom over the last few years, and getting through the first half of this school year without was difficult.

They are bringing the students back to the new/old school in stages. Today is Xy’s first day with students (seventh graders) while the younger kids will be coming back later in the week.

What else? We gave the girl her first haircut, and her cuteness now surpasses all expectation. She took her first pee in the potty last night and was so excited she reached in with her hand to stir it around.

So I guess that brings us up to the present day. Carnival starts tonight. Mardi Gras is in six short weeks. I sure hope it’s warmer then than it is now. It’s actually colder at this particular moment in New Orleans than it is out in Manzanita, Oregon. And it’s forecast to get colder still for the rest of the week. As I said yesterday morning, “This arctic wind really puts the sub back in subtropical.”

Too Young to Compute

Oh, I guess there is one other thing. My phone’s camera was on the fritz for a while, displaying only a weird solarized version of reality and unable to actually take photos. Following a tip from an online forum, I removed the cover and pushed on the lens a little. Somehow it seemed to make a difference, and thus I was able to retrieve these fabulous photos which don’t really have any connection to what I’ve written here.

Trial by Water

I wasn’t feeling quite right. When Xy offered to take our daughter with her on a shopping expedition I assented. It was just starting to rain so I urged her to drive carefully. Off she went.

We’d heard the weather reports the night before talking about a possibly severe “rain event” but I thought that was over. Wrong. I puttered around the house (feeling much better after relieving some gastrointestinal pressure) and after about an hour I sent the following text to Xy:

Jeez it’s raining heavily. I wish y’all had stayed home now. Be careful! Love!!!

Little did I know her phone was sitting on our bed upstairs.

About 45 minutes later I opened the front door and stepped out on the front porch. Loud and profane language began issuing spontaneously from my mouth. Our front yard was under water.

Banks Street Flooding

I texted Xy:

Our street is flooded badly!

I also tried calling her. In fact I called her repeatedly over the next couple hours. She never answered. Little did I know her phone was sitting on our bed upstairs.

And so I puttered and worried. Twitter indicated street flooding was occurring all over New Orleans. Michael Homan and his kids waded by for a visit. After they left I puttered and worried some more and continued to call Xy’s phone, wondering why on earth she didn’t answer and fearing for the worst. Little did I know her phone was sitting on our bed upstairs. Why didn’t I at least tell her to leave our girl at home with me?

And then the kitchen ceiling sprung a new leak. It’s becoming obvious that we need a new roof for the addition.

Finally, about three and a half hours after she left, the doorbell rang, and there she was on our front porch, soaked to the skin and holding our daughter on her hip. She’d driven the car into water and pushed it to start three times, but on the forth time it wouldn’t start. She had to abandon it on Airline Highway and walk home through flooded streets and pouring rain — carrying a toddler the whole way. Luckily she only had to go about a mile and a quarter.

It’s amazing to me no one offered help. She tried flagging down a cab but they didn’t stop. Plenty of police passed by but they didn’t stop. C’mon, a diminutive woman walking through a commercial/industrial zone in knee-deep flood-waters during a “rain event” at night in New Orleans with a baby — are you kidding me?

I of course had no idea they were in trouble until they showed up on the porch. The whole thing shook me up quite a bit. Sometimes I don’t dig living in New Orleans so much. I think I need a drink.

Well, Crap

Overnight New Orleans got pounded by heavy, heavy rain for several hours. Also some serious gusts. We lost power for a while during the night and there was of course some street flooding throughout the city.

The weather has caused our fumigation to be postponed. They were set to tent the house this morning, but during the storms the tarp got ripped. It was on another house at the time. That house has to be resealed and pumped full of more fumigant. So we have to aim for another date.

Meanwhile I’ve got a new worry to preoccupy me. This is by far the heaviest rain we’ve had in a while, and sure enough we sprang a leak. It appears to be in the area where the addition joins the older part of the house. Observant readers will recall a leak in this area was amongst the deficiencies we discovered in our inspection. But that was in at the other end of the addition; at least that repair appears to have held.

Autumnal

We’re finally getting a couple days of cooler, drier air, so it’s time to break out the autumnal tunes.

I think just about everybody in New Orleans is in a better mood today. It won’t last, but we’ll enjoy it while it’s here.

What passes for autumn in the subtropics really doesn’t compare to what I grew up with in the Midwest. I got reacquainted with the season when we were evacuated for Katrina. You know, stuff like this:

Reflected Trees

You just don’t get displays like that down here. Our friend James, born and raised in New Orleans, visited us there in Bloomington and was absolutely blown away by the fall foliage. He’d never seen that in forty-plus years of life.

I miss it more each year. But I will not miss snow flurries in November.

Autumnal Equinox

Here’s a mix of fourteen tracks for the equinox, about an hour of music, a mystical blend of jazz, electronica, a little hip-hop and some raging heavy metal (sorry Beth) including music by John Coltrane, Death Cab for Cutie and Heaven Shall Burn.

I kind of feel sorry for the autumnal equinox. Of all the four corners of the year, it seems to get the short shrift. It just doesn’t conjure the same excitement as the vernal equinox or either of the solstices. Not sure why.

When a certain theology professor wished me a happy equinox yesterday, I pointed out that he was about 30 hours early. He wondered how this was possible, and I pointed him to an old entry on this very blog. His reply?

I’ll just continue to mark the solstices and the equinoxes with the 21st. You’ll be the only person who will know that I’m living a lie, at least on some days.

So much for scholarly integrity! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go sacrifice a goat.

Catching Up

Lots of stuff going on lately, and so little time to write. The days slip away uncounted. I can’t stand that. So here are some things that have gone down over the last five days or more.

  • Xy made a trip to the north shore with Persephone and Daisy and Lavender to visit the splash park there in old Mandeville. They also stopped by a furniture store in Slidell; while Daisy was shopping Xy gathered some tadpoles and aquatic snails. Next thing I know she’s set up an aquarium on our kitchen table and added some goldfish and water plants. I said, “You’re turning this place into a frickin’ menagerie! Wasn’t the rabbit enough?”
  • Our former neighbor Jesus replaced our screwed-up lattice panel near the front door of our house. He said he would do the job two months ago, and I had kind of given up hope. And to top it off he also installed a door there — that door has been missing for years, since old Dan’s crucifix-rig disintegrated some time after Katrina, I think.
  • Xy tried her hand at painting the posts under the deck. Unfortunately she’s kind of sloppy — splatters and drips everywhere. I’m not the most fastidious person, but I’m taking the paintbrush back. I did the second coat myself and also got the new lattice work painted. I like bold rich colors but this is a pale lavender, so pale it’s almost gray.
  • Speaking of Lavender, we celebrated her first birthday Sunday. There were pony rides on the neutral ground. Persephone wasn’t terribly interested in the ponies, strangely enough, but it was still a fun party.
  • I gave a talk and led a walk along the Lafitte Corridor to about 30 kids as part of a summer program called Job One, run by the Alliance for Affordable Energy and the Louisiana Green Corps.
  • I’ll admit I get a little misty-eyed when remembering the moon landing. It’s not nostalgia, exactly, as I was only two when that happened. It’s more the grandeur of human achievement or something like that. Yet at the same time I do have mixed feelings about the whole space program. I’ve heard a bunch of lunar-themed songs lately, as DJs commemorate the event, but I think the best one is Gil Scott-Heron’s Whitey on the Moon, which expresses my misgivings eloquently and is a hoot to boot.
  • Aftre three weeks of bureaucratic delay, I finally got my annual letter reconfirming my employment. Hooray, I still have a job. Even got a decent raise. In this economy that’s saying something.
  • I do occasionally read books outside of my club selections. It took me a few months, chipping away at lunch time, but I finally finished Goth: Undead Subculture which the library purchased on my recommendation. Fascinating stuff. It’s the first and only collection of serious academic essays on the subject. I don’t usually read much academic writing, and this was heavy going in some places, but overall I think it’s pretty accessible. I think what I found most provocative is simply the idea of subcultures themselves as somehow resisting mainstream culture. I don’t know if subcultural studies is an organized field of study, but I think I’d like to learn more about it.
  • In case you’re in the mood for a weird link, here’s Oxidation Paintings by Mambo.

Also, the weather has been lovely for this time of year, by which I mean highs in the upper 80s and humidity below 50%. Is this really July in southern Louisiana?